We've seen numerous articles about the bipartisanship fetish displayed by some Senate Democrats, most notably Senator Baucus, on health care reform. Bipartisanship is the only goal for Senator Baucus--and it doesn't matter whether the policies get watered down or diluted to the point of ineffectiveness as long as the end result is a bipartisan vote to prevent actual progressive legislation from passing the Senate. It's why it's so important that progressives in Congress are fighting back on behalf of actual health care reform with a strong public option, and that they're exercising their power as a voting bloc in response to the so-called Senate moderates.
It's time we know what bipartisanship means as a code word for us progressives from the words of a Republican staffer:
Ron Bonjean, who formerly served as chief of staff under Senator Kyl, said: "Creating bipartisan coalitions on key issues is important to prevent Democrat legislative victories."
So, when you hear these so-called Senate moderates extolling the virtues of bipartisanship--what they're really extolling is their ability to prevent progressive legislation from benefitting millions of Americans. These Senate moderates, such as Evan Bayh, Landrieu, Baucus, Conrad, and others, are all too happy with the status quo because as long as they have the power to block or water down progressive legislation, it means that they continue to get press and the White House listens to them and their Blue Dog counterparts in the House instead of to the progressives in Congress.
Baucus and Grassley have been among the fiercest critics of a single-party approach.
"Fundamentally, legislation that is historic, that is comprehensive, that has a large number of senators supporting it is more durable," Baucus said in an interview. "It will be more sustainable and will inspire more public confidence."
Baucus, who came to the Senate in 1979, and Grassley, who joined two years later, have let that philosophy guide them since they assumed senior posts on the finance committee eight years ago.
What Baucus said above isn't true. The most enduring parts of historic legislation we've had today wasn't passed with bipartisan support---such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Social Security Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)---in spite of the opposition of the Conservative Coalition which included Republicans and conservative Southern Democrats.
It's kind of funny how history has a tendency to repeat itself when you read about bipartisan coalitions such as the Conservative Coalition working to defeat progressive legislation in the 1930s, and our own existing bipartisan coalition today working to defeat and water down progressive legislation. A huge grassroots effort from those in the Democratic Party in the 1930s helped pass progressive legislation---they basically made FDR and other political leaders do the right thing through thousands of letters and phone calls to Members of Congress.
It's time for us to make President Obama and our elected officials in Congress do the right thing.
In order to do that, we can't let up on the phone calls. They're working along with the ads being run by our progressive allies against these Senate moderates. It's why Senator Blanche Lincoln has recently moved in support of the inclusion of a public option in health care reform. This is a change from her previous position where she opposed the inclusion of a public option.
And let's keep on thanking our progressives in the House of Representatives for doing the right thing in standing strong support of a public option in health care reform, and we've got to keep on using the Public Option Whip Tool to make sure they vote against any bill that doesn't have a public option in it.
Please CALL these Senate Finance Committee members, particularly Senator Baucus, and ask them to mark-up their bill with a public option in it and to pass it out of committee.
We can't have any more delays with health care reform for the goal of bipartisanship.
ALSO, PLEASE CALL the phone numbers of ALL the Senators on the Finance Committee with these talking points below for the mark-up:
Tell Senator [Name] that you DO NOT want the 7-year trigger for the public option and take it off the table, and that you want him to support an affordable strong, robust Medicare-like public option. We NEED a strong, robust Medicare-like public option NOW OPEN TO ALL AMERICANS AND AFFORDABLE, not more of the SAME broken system that's given us unaffordable premiums, little private insurance coverage, and rising co-pays. Also, DON'T TAX OUR EMPLOYER HEALTH BENEFITS. Instead, follow the proposal by President Obama to tax the wealthy above $250,000, eliminate the overpayments in Medicare Advantage, and put tax capital gains to help fund health care reform. TELL YOUR SENATOR NO ON THE CONRAD CO-OP COMPROMISE.
Please CALL Senator Max Baucus at (202) 224-2651
Please CALL Senator Olympia Snowe at (202) 224-5344
Please CALL Senator John Rockefeller at (202) 224-6472
Please CALL Senator Ron Wyden at (202) 224-5244
Please CALL Senator Kent Conrad at (202) 224-2043
Please CALL Senator Jeff Bingaman at (202) 224-5521
Please CALL Senator John Kerry at (202) 224-2742
Please CALL Senator Blanche Lincoln at 202-224-4843
Please CALL Senator Debbie Stabenow at (202) 224-4822
Please CALL Senator Maria Cantwell at 202-224-3441
Please CALL Senator Bill Nelson at 202-224-5274
Please CALL Senator Robert Menendez at 202-224-4744
Please CALL Senator Thomas Carper at (202) 224-2441
Also, want to bring some serious local grassroots smackdown on Senators like Baucus, Wyden, Conrad, Lincoln , Landrieu, Hagan, and Feinstein? Let me tell you how we can do this. We're going to use President Obama's website, Organizing For America, to accomplish the greatest smackdown of all time via the grassroots.
This is the action item agenda with the "Contact People Near You" phonebanking tool below:
- Sign up with Organizing For America.
- Go to the Health Care Action Center and click on the "Contact People Near You" phonebanking icon to the left of the screen, near the bottom of the page.
- Select your state from the drop-down menu. This is where the fun action comes in!
- Let's say, you select Montana from the drop-down menu. It takes you to a new webpage where it has a red icon that says "Make Calls Now" with a list of 25 supporters to call. It asks you to make a report after the call, and gives you talking points. In my opinion, these are weak talking points since it doesn't mention the public option, so I'll be fixing that a bit.
- So what we'll be doing is calling 25 people, asking them if they support President Obama's health care plan, which includes a public option to help keep private insurers honest. Then we'll tell them to call their Senators, such as Max Baucus, Conrad, Hagan, and others, to ask them to support the public option in President Obama's health care plan.
That's what we'll be doing---bringing down the grassroots smack-down at a local level by calling people in these Senators' states. Here are the talking points for each of the states below that you can use when calling supporters from your call list. I'll use Montana as an example first.
Hi, is [person's name] home? My name is [blank], and I'm a volunteer with Organizing for America, the grassroots organization formed to continue bringing the change we worked for during President Obama's campaign. How are you today? (Wait for response and make sure to engage in a conversational manner). As you might know, Organizing for America was formed after the campaign to support the President's agenda for change.
Recently, President Obama laid out the three core principles for real health care reform in America which has to reduce costs — such as rising health care costs which are crushing the budgets of governments, businesses, individuals, and families, and they must be brought under control. Secondly, real health care reform must guarantee choice in that every American must have the freedom to choose their plan and doctor – including the choice of a public insurance option which helps keep private insurers honest and lowers the cost of the monthly premiums that we pay. The public option will be available nationwide, available on day one, and is accountable to Congress and the voters.
Third, it must ensure quality care for all in that Americans must have quality and affordable health care. The need for action in reforming our health care could not be greater; the costs for premiums are rising 4 times the rate of wages and families and small businesses can no longer afford their existing health care plan. If health care reform is going to be passed it cannot wait another year. For American families, the status quo is unacceptable.
Do you support these principles for health reform? I also would like to ask you to call your Senator, Max Baucus, at (202) 224-2651 on Monday to ask him to support President Obama's health reform by helping pass a strong public option which keeps private insurers honest.
Here's the list of states that we should call that presently have Senators that are threatening to block President Obama's health reform, which includes a strong competitive public option to keep insurers honest. So, when you use the "Contact People Near You" phonebanking tool on OFA and use the generic talking points which I provided, I want you to choose one of these states to call and to have the phone number of the Senator ready on hand to give to the local person you're talking to when you ask that person to call his or her Senator to support the public option in President Obama's health reform bill.
California--Senator Dianne Feinstein (202) 224-3841
Louisiana--Senator Mary Landrieu (202) 224-5824
Montana--Senator Max Baucus (202) 224-2651
Nebraska--Senator Ben Nelson (202) 224-6551
North Dakota--Senator Kent Conrad (202) 224-2043
Oregon--Senator Ron Wyden (202) 224-5244
Hope you'll be signing up with OFA this week to bring some serious smack-down at the grassroots level to these corporate Senate Democrats! Please recommend this diary so others can see the phone numbers and call!